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When job hunting, look beyond salary to find higher purpose

You might not know exactly what you’re looking for when you start job hunting. Finding a job is easier when you do, but rules have changed in this era of economic and professional uncertainty. You might be making a big or unconventional shift. How do you know when you’ve landed the opportunity you want?

Before answering that question, set up Google alerts to learn more about individual companies and spot others, particularly if you’re entering an unfamiliar field or niche. When you keep seeing the same names and you’ve contacted the promising ones, move closer toward a decision.

Miami’s Carlos Vazquez identifies a group of basic needs in a job search, and then one other. He’s director, global talent acquisition at Newell Rubbermaid Inc., APAC and Latin America. Vazquez cites company brand cachet and industry, closely followed by things such as advancement potential, salary and geography.

“All things being equal,” he says, “candidates will tend to accept offers at companies whose core values mirror theirs. Employees like to feel that they’re wedded to a company that makes a difference in the world.”

The founder of Connecting Happiness and Success, Ray White of Lewisville, Texas, calls that difference a higher purpose. He guides clients in identifying whether an offer meets “their higher purpose and definition of success.” White says pleasure gained from increased compensation is short-lived, about 90 days. However, a person whose higher purpose and definition of success match with a title or a certain amount of compensation is likely on track.

“If it feels right in your gut,” he says, “it’s probably a good match with your higher purpose.”

You might still find holes in an offer. Rose Coaching LLC’s Laura Rose, in Raleigh, N.C., advises clients to go beyond making a list of pros and cons to negotiate the offer you want. She sets up a third column for reversing a con.

“What needs to happen to turn your listed con into an acceptable item, an alternative for both sides?” she asks. “If you have no opportunity to do research, ask yourself how you can turn that into a positive.

“Are there other departments where you could volunteer an hour or two or explore outside of the company to research and write articles? If you’d love a job with a higher salary, ask yourself what you’d spend it on. Education? Would they reimburse you?”

Rose adds that if you like the way the company negotiates, you might well enjoy working there.


Eventually you must decide what to do if you don’t have what you want. First, Vazquez suggests you congratulate yourself on your offers and ask yourself whether you’re expecting too much and bypassing wonderful opportunities.

“Be aware that companies also have multiple candidates,” Vazquez says, “and just as they extend the offer, they can rescind it,” especially if you’re indecisive.

White mentions “job-crafting,” a process by which you establish that “you’re successful in your current job first, not leaving because you’re not giving 100 percent. Be clear on your higher purpose and definition of success.”

Rose says that “if you’ve dug deeply into each offer and know which to turn down, and when, you’ll never regret your decision (to move on),” whether to continue your job search or do something else. She adds that if you’re experiencing self-doubt, it could come from not having explored each offer sufficiently. Negotiate.

Vazquez reiterates that if you’re looking for more than salary, remind yourself of a company’s (relative) stability and advancement potential. However, if you’ve tried all the tactics listed here and you still can’t decide, not accepting an offer may be your decision.

Dr. Mildred L. Culp of WorkWise® welcomes your questions at © 2014 Passage Media.